Our Blog

Welcome to the Medomak Camp blog, a place for us to share with you, our campers, all sorts of goodies that you might be interested in.  From food and living off the land , to what Medomak looks like in the off-season and a behind the scenes look at our winter office, check back often for all new posts.

Food for Thought: Technology at Family Camp, Part II

March 18, 2013

When I set out to write something about how we use of technology while we’re at camp, I was hoping to encourage conversation about the subject. What I have come to realize since then was that I was actually joining an already ongoing conversation, and a pretty long one at that. So, today, I wanted to present a few of the voices in that conversation that I have found; some interesting points of view that I think will add to what I have already said. But, first: a little more of my own voice.

My initial thoughts about this subject were prompted by my experience as a campfire musician and the pretty extreme possibilities of technology to enhance this experience. There’s nothing like having a sing-along at campfire with just an acoustic guitar (or two) for accompaniment. Agreed. But have you tried any of the cool music-making apps out there? Okay, here I am talking about “cool apps” again, but really, there’s just so much out there. For example, there are countless virtual synthesizer apps available for little or no money that can turn your smartphone or tablet into a pretty capable musical instrument and/or fun noisemaking device. What does this mean for campfires? Well, all those Phil Collins and Talking Heads covers are going to sound a whole lot more authentic once you’ve got your smartphone-turned-synthesizer around. Is anyone else excited about this? Anyone? Okay, putting my obsession with 1980’s pop music aside, there are plenty of other perspectives out there on this topic.

This New York Times article follows a group of professors on an outdoor journey where they have little or no access to technology – no internet, no e-mail and no real cell phone service. It purposes, among other things, that our attention span, memory, and ability to learn are all affected, for the most part in a negative way, by our reliance on technology. Another article at Gettingkidsoutdoors.org, seems to agree, but focuses more on how this reliance on technology affects children, limiting the opportunities they have to think creatively and use their imaginations. It’s worth noting that both these articles seem to suggest that finding a healthy balance is the best solution, not simply confiscating technology. Next week: more (even cooler) apps for supplementing, but not distracting you from, your camp experience.

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Posted by: Rick
Topics: Activities, Family

Bring on the Maine Course!

February 24, 2013

You might not know this: during my first week at Medomak, the week before camp actually began, one of the things that the counselors did was go on a kind of “scavenger hunt.” It helped get us more familiar with town of Washington, Maine and the areas surrounding it, making it easier for us to talk to campers about some of the really cool destinations around.

This you might know: I love food. If my memory serves me correctly, more than half of the destinations on that scavenger hunt were places to get food. “WHY,” you ask, wide-eyed and confused, “would ANYONE ever want to eat ANYTHING besides the glorious food that is already prepared for us at Medomak?” Good question! Well, during camp, Wednesday is the day when we take a break from programming and give families a chance to explore Maine, should they so choose to. And, like my pragmatically philosophical dad once said to me, “variety is the spice of life!” If you’re out on an adventure and find yourself too hungry to make it back to camp, here are a few dining destinations that became personal favorites of mine.

Morse’s Sauerkraut. Don’t let the name fool you; this place isn’t just for lovers of sauerkraut. It’s like an amusement park of European food inside. There’s a section to sit down and eat and a store that sells everything from sweet, chocolate-covered treats to homemade mustard pickles.

http://www.morsessauerkraut.com/

The Belfast Co-op. A little too far from camp to be on the scavenger hunt, but it’s great health food store with a café inside. Try a vegan BLT!

http://www.belfast.coop/

Sweet Season Farm. Another great spot, and right down the road. Like the name suggests, there are many things here to satisfy your sweet tooth. For that, try some local maple candy.

http://sweetseasonfarm.com/

John’s Ice Cream. Go now. Ask questions later. Get something with peanut butter. I did. Wow. So good.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Johns-Ice-Cream/206998068862

Moody’s Diner. A great diner that’s been around for a long time. I suggest a pumpkin whoopie pie. It’s the size of a sandwich… but it’s dessert.

http://www.moodysdiner.com/

 

 

Rick

Counselor

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Posted by: Rick
Topics: Family, Food

Stick a fork in 2012! Time to sign up for 2013!

September 21, 2012

Summer 2012 is a wrap. Done. Finished. And fantastic!

The families all had a great time, the staff were fun, and the weather was amazing. This is 16 summers of Family Camp for me and it ranked right up there with one of the best ever. Personal highlights were zeroing in on the brown trout (and eating them), teaching disc golf and eating Keira’s amazing chicken.

But now, on to summer 2013. Registrations start October 1st and planning is already underway. Lots of good things coming our way this next summer. Stay tuned!

Dave
Director

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Posted by: Dave
Topics: Camp in the off season, Family

Exploring Nature with Children at Medomak

January 2, 2012

Happy New Year everyone! New Years is a time when we can reflect upon the past year. I tip my hat to the many lessons I learned in 2011, the people that I met, and the places I got to see. During 2011, I worked as the Nature counselor at Medomak Family Camp. And since this is a time for reflecting I would like to share my favorite experience working out-of-doors with children in 2011.

It was my first week at the family camp and I had been discouraged the first day with the way my lessons were going with the children. I had been teaching children outdoor skills for 2 years at this point and during those 2 years I had learned many lessons and really begun to crave the fulfillment of being an outdoors instructor. I’d grown to love the feeling of being with a group of kids and barely having a lesson plan. We go off into the woods and 75% of the day is improvisation. I end up surfing a razor’s edge. One side being the boring, exhausted public school teacher approach: with a rigid curriculum and a “have to do this at this time and that at that time and fit all this into one class session” attitude. The other side is the person who has no control over his group of children. They are running all around with no discipline, no boundaries. Children may injure themselves this way, get into trouble, and learn very little.

The way that I’ve been taught to run children programs from my mentors at the Maine Primitive Skills School is to be guided by intuition during the program to read the energy of the group and point them in the correct direction to maximize their learning. This is done by putting them into situations that are challenging, yet fun. Done correctly, this style of mentoring coupled with wilderness skills leads to adult human being who are self-actualized, passionate about their life, and able to maximize their own unique gifts. Is there anything more a parent can hope for their child?

So, getting back to the story. My first week at the camp so far was not going as I had hoped. No one was having fun. I wasn’t having fun, the kids weren’t having fun. I saw myself forcing lessons about ecology and biology onto them and got frustrated when they would rather kick a soccer ball around. When I brought them into the woods they complained of mosquitoes biting them. And on our way back to the field we ended up running into poison ivy patch after poison ivy patch, then we got stuck in a raspberry thicket. Things weren’t going well. By the time we made it to the nature cabin, my group of 4 children looked as though they had spent the last 4 days lost in the woods without food or water. Such was their body language, facial expressions, and their attitudes.

But then it all started to change. It started by letting go of any hope to continue with what I had planned to teach that day. When we got into the cabin I was immediately bombarded with questions about the stuff I had strew out around the cabin during staff training the week before. Inside the nature cabin was a nature museum! And what 11 year old boy can resist asking questions about a turtle shell laying about on the desk!

I made a nature museum inside the cabin knowing full well that children would ask me questions about it. I knew excitement would gather in them as they realized that the white thing on the table was really the skull of a wild animal! “What kind of animal?”, was the question asked to me. “Well, what kind of teeth does it have, do you think this animal eats meat?” was my response. And as I had hoped, the whole group transformed into detectives, searching and dissecting clues of the skull. I surfed the wave of answering each question with a question, pushing their curiosity deeper and deeper.
After about 15 minutes or so of questioning and allowing them to discover the different parts of the museum, their curiosity started to slow. The attention span of most children is not long. The shift was subtle, but I knew I had to do something fast, or they would be back in the field kicking at a soccer ball. This is where teaching is so much fun for me. I notice the group needed a change and for a short time I had no idea what was going to come next! The tension was building inside of me as I was racking my brain for activities while telling them a story about the deer skull on the table. Just barely holding their attention, I glanced over at the empty jars on the table. Got it! The group needs a change in environment, we need to go back outside. I asked the kids if they wanted to go exploring for stuff to add to the nature museum and handed each of them an empty jar. Then we spent the next hour crawling on our hands and knees through the fields and the woods looking for “cool stuff”. We were all rummaging through the grasses, breaking open logs, lifting up rocks. The children became engaged and we had a blast! We found salamanders, butterflies, shiny rocks, beautiful flowers. We even found a fox den! When the lunch bell rang each of the children went running to their parents and sibling excited to show them what they had found. There was no doubt in my mind that the children learned about biology and ecology that day just by being immersed with nature and having fun!

So as I look back on 2011, I do so with a smile at experiences like this one and look forward to more in 2012.

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Posted by: Mike
Topics: Uncategorized

Up, Up and Away! Astronomy at Medomak

June 3, 2013
Summer camps have long been seen as an opportunity for children in urban areas to experience something entirely different; to learn a new set of skills, to live at a slower pace, and to gain a more complete appreciation of things not manmade.  Stargazing, which is often not possible in cities because of light pollution, tends to be a favorite nighttime activity of campers. And, when it comes to visibility, being at Medomak usually means having the “best seat in the house.”  If you have the chance to get out there and spend some time under the stars, consider a few of these mind-boggling facts.
  • ·      Even at a prime location in ideal weather conditions, an observer from Earth can only see about 3,000 stars. That might seem like a lot, but it is only a tiny portion of the estimated 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone.
  • ·      A small can full of the material that makes up a neutron star would have more mass than the entire Moon.
  • ·      If you’re looking at something that is a few light years away, what you are actually seeing is the image of that thing as it was that many years ago. The Andromeda galaxy, for instance, appears to us as it looked 2.3 million years ago. In this way, stargazing is like looking back in time.
  • ·      Shooting stars are not actually stars at all; they are relatively small particles of dust or other debris that burn up in our atmosphere, thus creating this phenomenon.
  • ·      Roughly one thousand years ago, a supernova exploded and led to the creation of the Crab Nebula. The explosion was so intense, astronomers on Earth recorded that it could be seen even during the daytime.
  • ·      Mount Everest might be the tallest mountain on Earth, but it’s not the tallest mountain in our solar system. At around 15 miles high, Olympus Mons on Mars is about 3 times the height of Everest!

 

These are only a few of the unbelievable astronomy facts out there. Try these sites for more!
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Posted by: Rick
Topics: Nature

The Moxie Dilemma

June 3, 2013

Some of the most heated discussions that I took part in at Medomak were regarding the peculiar taste of Maine’s official soft drink, Moxie. I was introduced to the soda in my first few days at camp; Dave, our director, was going around documenting the looks on people’s faces when they took their first ever sip of it. Moxie, it seemed, had quite a reputation. What does it taste like? Honestly, that’s something you might have to find out for yourself. Many have tried to describe the flavor, but there’s no way to really understand it without experiencing it. As a strong supporter of the soda, I’ll give you my take. It bears resemblance to a cola or a root beer in the most basic ways. It’s dark and syrupy. The initial taste of it is sweet and earthy, but not fruity. The gentian root, I learned, gives it this unique flavor. Some describe it as medicinal, even, but I disagree. It’s….herbal…or something.

One young camper praised Moxie, saying “it’s like root beer, but 10% better.” This soda review had a slightly different opinion: “The taste of pennies, dirt, and unsweetened envelope glue now dance upon your tongue.”  It’s not uncommon to find people whose thoughts on the drink are similarly polarized. You either love it or hate it, it seems. Opinions aside, Moxie remains relevant to us at Medomak because, as I mentioned, it is our state’s official drink. In fact, its inventor, Dr. Augustin Thompson, was born in Union, Maine, only a short drive away from camp. If you’re coming to Medomak, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try the infamous drink, and I, for one, highly recommend that you do so.

 

Did you know? First manufactured around 1885, Moxie, or “Moxie Nerve Food,” as it was then called, was one of the first ever bottled soft drinks in America. It was one of the chief competitors of Coca Cola and Pepsi, before its popularity dwindled. It remains regionally popular all over New England.

 

 

Source: http://www.drinkmoxie.com/history.php#

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Posted by: Rick
Topics: Food

Medomak Retreat Ceneter

Participate in adult art and science retreats (or let us host yours) at our beautiful, peaceful and accommodating retreat facility just down the road.
Learn more >> retreats@medomakcamp.com
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Medomak Camp is the first full-season secular family camp to be accredited by the American Camping Association

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